Andrew Tanenbaum - Pardons Canada

How to get a job with a criminal record

January 31, 2024
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Andrew Tanenbaum
Pardons Canada

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Securing employment with a criminal record in Canada is a challenge many individuals face. This article explores the legal landscape surrounding employment with a criminal record, strategies for overcoming potential barriers, and the rights and responsibilities of both job seekers and employers in Canada.

How to get a job with a criminal record

Understanding the Legal Context

In Canada, the legal framework regarding employment and criminal records primarily revolves around human rights and privacy laws. Each province and territory may have specific regulations, but generally, Canadian law seeks to balance the rights of individuals with a criminal record against the legitimate concerns of employers.

Human Rights Legislation

Most jurisdictions in Canada have human rights legislation that prohibits discrimination based on a criminal record. This protection typically applies to convictions for which a pardon or record suspension has been granted. However, discrimination based on criminal records that are unrelated to the job is also often prohibited.

Privacy Laws

Canadian privacy laws restrict how much personal information an employer can collect. This includes limitations on conducting criminal record checks and how the information obtained can be used.

Strategies for Job Seekers with Criminal Records

  1. Understand Your Record: Know the details of your criminal record, including the nature of the offense and the sentence. Obtain a copy of your record for accuracy.
  2. Seek a Record Suspension: If eligible, apply for a record suspension (formerly known as a pardon). While this doesn’t erase your criminal record, it makes it inaccessible through standard criminal record checks, thereby widening employment opportunities.
  3. Prepare to Address Your Record: Develop a concise and honest explanation of your criminal record if required. Focus on your rehabilitation, learning, and how you have changed since the offense.
  4. Identify Suitable Employment: Some careers may be more accessible than others, depending on the nature of your criminal record. For instance, certain professions may have strict guidelines regarding criminal histories.
  5. Leverage Support Networks: Utilize employment support services for individuals with criminal records. These organizations can provide job training, placement services, and advice on addressing criminal records with potential employers.
  6. Enhance Your Skills and Qualifications: Pursuing additional training or education can make your application more competitive and demonstrate your commitment to personal development.

Employers’ Considerations and Responsibilities

  1. Conducting Criminal Record Checks: Employers in Canada can conduct criminal record checks, but they must have a legitimate reason related to the job. They also need to inform the applicant and obtain consent.
  2. Relevance of the Record: Employers should consider whether the criminal record is relevant to the job’s requirements. For instance, a conviction unrelated to the job’s responsibilities should not automatically disqualify a candidate.
  3. Assessing Individual Cases: Employers are encouraged to assess applicants with criminal records on a case-by-case basis, considering factors like the nature and recency of the offense and evidence of rehabilitation.

Legal Rights of Job Seekers

  1. Right to Non-Discrimination: Applicants have the right not to be discriminated against unfairly because of a past criminal record, particularly for unrelated offenses or where a record suspension has been obtained.
  2. Right to Privacy: Applicants have a right to privacy regarding their criminal record, and disclosure should only be required where it is legitimately relevant to the job.

Overcoming the Stigma

  1. Personal Advocacy: Be prepared to advocate for yourself, highlighting your skills, achievements, and readiness for the job.
  2. Use References: Positive references, particularly from previous employers or community leaders, can significantly mitigate the impact of a criminal record.

Getting a job with a criminal record in Canada requires navigating a complex interplay of human rights, privacy considerations, and individual advocacy. Job seekers should understand their legal rights and be prepared to address their criminal record transparently, focusing on rehabilitation and qualifications. Employers, on the other hand, must balance due diligence with fair and non-discriminatory practices. Successfully securing employment with a criminal record is challenging but achievable, with the right approach, support, and understanding of the legal framework in Canada.

You may consider using Pardons Canada (pardons.org) to assist in the pardon, file destruction and US waiver application process. Pardons Canada (pardons.org) has been helping Canadians for over 35 years and has an expert staff of over 25 employees at their head office to gather and prepare all of the necessary documentation for the application process.  You can speak to any counselor at 1877-929-6011 extension 1 and they would be happy to provide a free consultation on your specific case.

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Andrew Tanenbaum
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